“I have a different direction that I want to go in life because of the trip…”

Destination: New Orleans, LA

Trip Organizers: Sierra Betts ’17 ([email protected]) & Caleb Miaw ’11 ([email protected])

The Experience

Participants of ServeUP had the opportunity to be part of the recovery process in New Orleans, which continues nine years after Hurricane Katrina put 80% of the city underwater, caused 1,800 deaths in the region, and left behind over $100 billion in destruction. Trip members were broken up into three groups that also worked alongside other colleges at various project work sites, where Williams students painted two houses and did construction work on several others. Each night, students participated in thought-provoking small group discussions, where they learned about the complex issues facing New Orleans recovery, explored how to pursue social justice back on campus, and discussed what it takes to be a world-changer dedicated to a lifetime of service. Participants also had a day of tours and exploration of New Orleans.

Participant Quotes

  • “I have a different direction that I want to go in life because of the trip.  I cancelled a final round interview in the for‐profit sector because of the reflections and meditations on the trip.”
  • “I learned so many skills, from communication to simple open‐mindedness, in ways that I had never deemed possible.”
  • “I’ve realized that there are church communities out there that do attempt to reconcile faith and activism/politics. The trip gave me hope.”
  • “The best part of this trip was connecting the work with learning.  We studied how our motivations for service impacted why we were serving in New Orleans.”
  • “I learned so much about Hurricane Katrina and how much it still affects New Orleans, so my perspective on that issue has definitely changed. My perspective on how spiritual community service and activist work is has definitely changed.”
  • “[This trip gave me] the time to reflect on my future goals without interruption.  It put me in an environment that I could freely express and think about who I want to be.”
  • “We made valuable conversations in a judgement free zone that I’ve never had at Williams before.”
  • “I have become more open to others’ points of view, and have become inspired to be more active in faith‐based groups and more active in pursuing social justice in general. I hope I’ve become more sensitive to the needs and feelings of those around me, and more aware of my own prejudices and biases.”
  • “I got peace, happiness, greater understanding, lasting friendships, a greater understanding of the views and perspectives of others through their personal stories and life experiences, and a greater level comfort within in myself and who I am, and most of all a stronger desire to help and serve others in any way that I possibly can.